Takumi Minamino’s lack of starts for Liverpool continues. He has only been picked for two Carabao Cup fixtures.
Given Roberto Firmino’s uninspiring form in recent weeks, there was hope that Jurgen Klopp could be saving him for the Champions League clash against Ajax.
Wrong again. Minamino was on the bench, and only came on in the 60th minute giving himself little time to influence the match.
You can’t argue with Klopp’s decision making. In what had been a crazy and turbulent few weeks for Liverpool that was riddled with setback after setback, getting the result was all that mattered in Amsterdam.
He will get his chance
This was arguably a make-or-break match for Liverpool, and it was important that the Reds could ease the pressure following the substantial setback to Virgil van Dijk. It was important to get off to a strong start.
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Klopp wanted a known quantity, rather than picking Minamino, who ultimately still needs to earn his trust.
The manager went for his tried-and-tested pedigreed front-three, a system he has yet to alter in either the Premier League or the Champions League so far this season.
It’s going to take something or more importantly someone special to break the dynamic between an attacking triumvirate that has remained ever-present at the club for the best part of three years.
Klopp has seen them work together on countless occasions and it isn’t surprising that he is cautious about integrating someone else into a system that has delivered four trophies over the past two seasons.
£7.25 million signing Minamino will eventually build up that trust. It’s just not quite there yet.
The only recent signing who immediately has thrown himself into the starting XI is Thiago Alcantara, a player who only two months ago was crowned a European champion for the second time in his career. It shows how high the bar is set at Liverpool.
In the time Minamino was given to make an impact against Ajax he still had some telling moments. In just 30 short minutes he was able to register two shots, both of which were on target, one key pass and a pass success rate of 85% according to WhoScored.
A potential route into the first team could come if Klopp were to alter Liverpool’s formation from a 4-3-3 to potentially a 4-2-3-1 system.
This would enable Minamino to slot in behind Firmino as the Japanese international’s talents are best utilised in a central role as opposed to the wings.
With five fixtures awaiting Liverpool over the next 14 days, there is every reason to be optimistic that an opportunity for Minamino to showcase his talents from the off isn’t too far down the line.
If Liverpool’s next match against Sheffield United doesn’t go Minamino’s way either, then he should realistically set his sights on the midweek clash against FC Midtjylland at Anfield on Tuesday.
If he can perform well against the Danish champions, that will be his chance to prove to Klopp that he should get the nod as a starter more regularly.
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